Mandolin Players Anonymous
Today I dedicate my post to a new group of FaceBook friends. They are called ‘Mandolin Players Anonymous.’ If I have ever run into a group of folks I felt a more immediate kinship with I do not recall it.
You see, mandolin players are the same everywhere you go. We all know the same tunes, we tell the same jokes, and we play instruments that are eerily similar in appearance. We are thicker than thieves.
For many of us, we didn’t find the mandolin, it found us. Bill Monroe himself was that way; a small, cross-eyed, self-conscious boy who became a giant. He picked up the mandolin because his older brothers already claimed the fiddle and the guitar. Bluegrass history is so fortunate for the quirk that it worked out that way; we’d a never been the same otherwise.
For me, the mandolin came to me because my band needed one. I played guitar and banjo, but we couldn’t find a mandolin player, so I took it up. I fell in love with it. My wife loved it. And even though I am old anything that impresses your girl is still a good thing.
I am primarily a bluegrass mandolinist, and I have been fortunate to study under two great players, Darin Aldridge and Wayne Benson. They would be the first to tell you the mandolin is not confined to bluegrass, and I have heard them play many different styles. The thing is great for the blues, country, gospel, classical, Celtic, old time, orchestra, pop, and even even rock ‘n roll. Because it is tuned in fifths it serves as ultra- logical ongoing music theory lesson. More important, it is just plain cool. If I were advising a young man as to how to meet girls, I would say to learn to play the mandolin. You can’t go wrong with with it.
As a Doc I have been very fortunate. With God’s help I’ve even saved a few lives. My patients are my friends, and I love ’em almost as much as family. Many of them are musicians. But mark my words, my mandolin has brought more friends my way than my stethoscope ever dreamed of.
When my book comes out, the mandolin players are gonna have an inside track to the truth. For example, if a man was trying to sell you a Loar and it didn’t have a dovetail neck joint every mandolin player in the world would know right away the man was a fraud. I expect certain passages in the book are so carefully encoded the mandolin players will have to interpret for their friends and family.
Check out the picture for Mandolin Players Anonymous on FaceBook. Maybe I’m old, a mandolin freak, or just happily married, but I would rather have that Loar of Bill Monroe’s grace my study than an SI swimsuit girl, and I ain’t kidding.
So, to all my new mandolin pals, y’all watch for my book, ‘The Mandolin Case.’ Mandolins players of the world may have been the underdogs ’till now, but for one time, at least in my book in the year of 2010, our little instrument is gonna go down in the history book as heroic, even to an outside world that knows so precious little about it at this time. And once it is written down, no one can ever take it away.
It’s like my friend Wayne Benson says, “We are bluegrass, and we aren’t going away.” See you out on the bluegrass road, and y’all keep on picking.